A stunning Australian collapse handed England their best day of the tour in this Ashes series and they are now in a position from where they can dominate the MCG Test match. Join us for live scores and commentary from 10.30am AEDT.
After having the Aussies on the mat on the first day of the series in Brisbane, this is the first time when England will enter a new day knowing they can dictate terms to their opposition.
It did not look like it was going England’s way from the word go on the second day. Tim Bresnan was bounced out early, Kevin Pietersen played an embarrassingly callous stroke to get out and the pair of Stuart Broad and Monty Panesar did not last too long either.
What that meant was that England had to front up to the worst-case scenario going into the day. They would be expecting, almost hoping that the lower-order wagged along side Pietersen and they got themselves to at least 350 but when that did not materialise, it would have been easy to lose the morale yet again.
Instead, on a track that assisted their brand of bowling, Alastair Cook was supported by his quick bowlers in drying up the runs for the Aussies, in turn eliciting some strange strokes to get dismissed.
David Warner seemed like he was yet to shrug off from the T20 mode that he had got himself into in the lead-up to this Test and holed out to a top-edge.
Shane Watson refuses to refrain from playing those swishes outside off stump – ostensibly because they get him runs too – and that was the cause of another downfall for the Aussie number three.
Michael Clarke left one alone when it was far too close to the off stump and had his stumps rattled.
Steven Smith faced 76 deliveries for his 17 and then ran out of patience and nicked it to the slips. George Bailey threw his bat when he saw width but only managed to afford the new English keeper Jonny Bairstow an easy catch.
And then the tail capitulated in wake of some sustained pressure as well.
Only Chris Rogers, bloodied from a Stuart Broad bouncer earlier, and Brad Haddin, managed to stand up to their opponents. Rogers was finally dismissed for 61 after a 171-ball stay at the crease while Haddin was still not-out on 43 but with only one wicket remaining to support him.
While the wickets fell to innocuous enough deliveries, the amount of work that the English bowlers had put in making scoring difficult and hence pushing the impatient Aussie batsmen into playing impetuous shots, cannot be undermined.
From England’s point of view, they would look to wrap this up quickly and then bat the day. If England can do that, say get through to the stumps with even 200 on the board, their lead will border on the healthy.
Chasing last could be difficult on what has been termed as a slow pitch where batsmen will need to graft. Australia have shown once, in Trent Bridge in the first Ashes Test match in England, they can get close enough to 300 in the last innings, which is why England would ideally look at scoring much more.
But 200 in the third innings will be a bare minimum for England.
Australia need to eat up as much of the English lead as possible. Currently they are 91 behind but more the runs they get, it would not only be better for them last innings but also frustrate the English opening batsmen.
Still, their true test will come when they have the ball in their hands. They bowled reasonably well on the first day but weren’t aided by their fielders, can they change things around the second time?
Expect another grinding day of Test cricket in hot conditions, with temperatures expected to go up to 38 degrees centigrade.
What this will mean is that Nathan Lyon’s role with the ball will turn that much more important, as he will need to double up as both, a stock bowler and a wicket-taking one.
Join us for the third day of the fourth Ashes 2013-14 Test on Saturday and you can follow the live score of this game from 10.30am AEDT and post your comments below.